Sunday, 1st January 2012

Several Magical Moments to end early January, others “extended” into 20th Anniversary

It’s 2012 (Happy New Year!) and time for a fresh start. For Disneyland Paris, that appears to mean several key elements of the current Disney Magical Moments Festival, marketed to run until 4th March 2012, will be cleared out early. Rumours long suggested the main Mickey’s Magical Celebration show on Central Plaza would face an early finish, due to the much detested Central Plaza Stage finally being ripped out, opening up the hub of the park ready for Dreams.

Now, here’s the confirmation: no performances from 9th January onwards! In truth, the show has had a lukewarm reception ever since last April. Notably lacking the grander spectacle of the previous Disney Showtime Spectacular, it wasn’t quite the kind of production to justify such a monolithic stage to take over the heart of the park. Initially it seemed the four large satellite “arms” of the stage might be lopped off, but now the whole stage is said to be for the chop. For stage shows, this means any future open-air productions will (quite rightly) be on the Théâtre du Château where they belong. For new nighttime spectacular Dreams, the rumour mill is still pumping: Will the removal of the stage open up the area purely for more standing room again, or could the hub become part of the show? One particularly fun (if purely fabricated) rumour is for a “magic” dancing fountain to take the place of the former flower bed. To be honest, even being able to walk across and use the plaza as a “hub”, rather than an impermeable roundabout, seems an exciting prospect at this point.

Surprisingly, this show isn’t the only “Magical Moment” preparing for early retirement. It will be joined on 9th January by Disney Dance Express, the garishly-coloured dance show which reused the old Dumbo Casey Jr. parade float. Could this, the float’s fifth iteration since its launch as part of The Wonderful World of Disney Parade, be its last? Meanwhile, the Green Army Men Meet & Play event over in Toy Story Playland will also end on the same date and, as reported earlier, the first float will be removed from Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade for its “Magic on Parade!” makeover.

Making it all the way to the 4th March end date, but not continuing beyond that date, will be the “interactive” show stops of Disney’s Once Upon a Dream Parade, the temporary Tangled meet ‘n’ greet location for Rapunzel and, surprisingly, the small Following the Leader with Peter Pan show in Adventureland. That event was perhaps the most appreciated of all the new “moments” in 2011. For Rapunzel, we must presume she will simply join the other princesses in the new Princess Pavilion.

Finally, continuing into the 20th Anniversary are the many photo locations which popped up around the parks: Wall•E and Eve in Discoveryland, Alice in Wonderland near the Labyrinth, Aladdin near Adventureland Bazaar, Ratatouille near Restaurant des Stars and Monsters, Inc. in Toon Studio (which, added in 2006, was never “new” for 2011 to begin with, but never mind). Lighting McQueen will remain in his Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular cameo and the new Adventureland Rhythms of the Jungle location next to Restaurant Hakuna Matata will remain the home of the popular Tam Tam.

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

Wednesday, 28th September 2011

Beginning of the end for Captain EO encore as it moves to “peak days only” operation?

Is Disneyland Paris beginning to wind down its Captain EO encore? A quick look at the latest Closure & Refurbishment dates for the parks now shows the Discoveryland attraction marked as closed on weekdays for the first three weeks of October: 3rd to 7th, 10th to 14th and 17th to 21st. Those infamous yellow 3-D glasses were also kept out of guests’ hands last week, when EO closed from Monday 19th to Friday 23rd September, suggesting that — rather than simple refurbishment as first expected — a new “peak days only” operating programme could be coming into force.

Michael Jackson and George Lucas fans have already had to contend with some very limited hours for the 3-D theatre show this year, with the first performance of the day held back until 11am and a closing time set far short of the rest of the park at around 5 or 6pm. The return has always been on an indefinite run, but if you’re a particular fan of this “rag-tag band lead by the infamous Captain EO”, you might want to catch an encore next time you can, just in case.

Captain EO returned to all its original locations at Disneyland in California, Epcot in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Park in Paris last year. Though originally confirmed as “not returning” in the Backstage magazine for Cast Members, it ended up reopening in Paris a month ahead of the other international parks on 12th June 2010. This was still some way behind the February opening of the “Tribute” show in California, and though the relaunch garnered some initial publicity it is clear there has been only muted excitement for Jackson’s return to Disneyland Paris among regular guests. With no replacement yet in sight for the other parks, Discoveryland faces having a high-capacity theatre shuttered for much of the time — all the while, right next door to an out-of-date Star Tours.

Monday, 25th July 2011

May the Force be with you: Star Wars characters make official return to Discoveryland

Try not to feel too much like the child who gets an action figure of Jar Jar Binks instead of Han Solo for Christmas here — Star Wars has made an official return to Discoveryland! Yes, Disneyland Park just welcomed the official return of Star Wars characters Darth Vader and Chewbacca, who are now even listed on the daily park Programme times guide (PDF) appearing near Star Tours. Last year, the pair were spotted on the odd occasion near the 1987 classic but their presence was never given a definite time or location. For fans of the saga, the pair’s return will be especially appreciated, coming just in time for the Blu-Ray re-release of the films, and it really helps to give the parks’ character offering that much more variety and widespread appeal than the usual animated stars.

We’d have preferred the updated, multi-destination, 3-D Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, that just opened in May and June at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland respectively (just FYI, Euro Disney SCA), but maybe this at least gives us “A New Hope” that Disneyland Paris still knows the George Lucas universe is a hot property to have within its gates.

See Chewie and Darth most days (currently at 11:30, 12:30, 13:30 and 15:45) this Summer!

PHOTOS VIA Photos Magiques

Monday, 18th April 2011

Constellations boutique barrier removed, guests free to disobey Star Command

Constellations boutique

It was an unsubtle way to funnel more guests exiting Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast into the adjoining Constellations shop, but perhaps the metal barrier constructed a few months ago didn’t quite provide the bump in sales hoped for. Today the metal gates have all been removed, leaving only the support beams wrapped in red and white tape. Oddly, the themed Buzz Lightyear vinyls previously stuck to the floor attempting to point guests into the shop have also been pulled up, so perhaps this is only a temporary chance to disobey Star Command’s orders?

PHOTO VIA Mark Stothard

Thursday, 14th April 2011

Refurb Roundup Day: The Movie – Concepts and events captured on official video

As promised, here’s the official video of the Molly Brown rededication ceremony and the refurbishment presentation events of 25th March, when we were invited to see first-hand the ongoing and upcoming projects taking place across the resort in the lead-up to the 20th Anniversary next year. The Molly Brown’s full-time return to the rivers this weekend finally brought the video online, which also features a good look at some of the concepts and details we were shown during the presentation that morning. A map of Disneyland Park shows the areas to be refurbished in red, whilst photos show the original 1990s model of Sleeping Beauty Castle being re-touched with its new colours that “soar into the sky”.

Special credit to Kristof of magicforum and Photos Magiques for not only stepping up to the mic but slipping in that fun little tribute to the Molly Brown’s original “Queen of the River” title!

Disneyland Paris refurbishments
Map showing planned refurbishments in Disneyland Park for 2011 (annotated by DLRP Today)

Disneyland Paris refurbishments Disneyland Paris refurbishments
Katy Olsen applies the new colour scheme to the original castle model

Disneyland Paris refurbishments
Thomas Bardenat explains the logistics of the castle restoration

Disneyland Paris refurbishments Disneyland Paris refurbishments

VIA Disneyland Paris (YouTube)

Tuesday, 12th April 2011

19 Today – Happy Birthday Disneyland Paris!

Happy Birthday Disneyland Paris

Exactly nineteen years ago today, at 9.01am on 12th April 1992, Euro Disney Resort officially opened its gates to the public. Euro Disneyland brought a magic kingdom more beautiful than any other to a whole new continent, bringing home its tales as old as time; allowing a whole new audience to “leave today and enter worlds of history, discovery and ageless fantasy”. Festival Disney was a bold nighttime entertainment district designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, whilst a record number of five Disney resort hotels (the sixth, Sequoia Lodge, would open in May) and nearby Camp Davy Crockett would give the resort an impressive first phase… that revenues just couldn’t match.

With now less than one year to go before the 20th Anniversary, let’s not overlook how much the resort has managed to grow since that over-ambitious opening. A second park, Space Mountain, Tower of Terror, Toon Studio, endless shows, parades and seasons, numerous Disney Village additions, the busiest high speed rail station in France, seven more nearby partner hotels — even a whole town centre! — and so much more. Whilst we might be in a lull between new attractions, the next year will see the biggest slate of refurbishments in the resort’s history, polishing and embellishing this astonishing achievement of Walt Disney Imagineering’s own golden age. And further into this decade, we’ll see World of Disney transform the hub, the vast Villages Nature holiday complex and water park, a groundbreaking dark ride, hotel expansions, major Disney Village expansions and even, with luck and money, that second park becoming what we can call “a whole second park”.

Here’s to the ever-outstanding cast and crew, and here’s to the future!

Tuesday, 1st March 2011

Constellations boutique now the only exit from Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast

If you’re familiar with the exit of Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast in Discoveryland, the photo above will probably bring a smirk to your face — at least, until you next try to leave the attraction and are one of those to be funnelled through gift shop Constellations instead. The 2006 attraction originally gave visitors a choice of whether to enter the store (to the left of this photo) similar to other “exit boutiques” at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and Star Tours, where the shop is located off to one side of the exit to prevent a bottle-neck. Now, the exit area has now been blocked off with some quite hefty barriers, as Star Command force everyone to exit via the gift shop.

Previously, this open covered area often had its own portable cash desk and merchandise stalls. Past attempts to encourage more guests into the store itself can be seen above with the not-so-subtle arrows across the floor. The resort’s newest attraction/shop combo, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, already requires everyone to leave via Tower Hotel Gifts.


Sunday, 16th January 2011

Digital cheeseburgers arrive at Café Hyperion, on new video screen menus

Café Hyperion

Successfully tested last year at Restaurant en Coulisse, the concept of digital video screens for menu boards has now crossed over to its fast food cousin in Disneyland Park, Café Hyperion. Under the shadow of the Hyperion airship in Videopolis, guests now choose their counter service meals from five LCD monitors mounted above each serving area. The advantage presumably being that, aside from the menus apparently looking more enticing and being better illuminated, they’re easier to update with new food choices — or rather, prices.

Disneyland Paris has led the way with technical innovations like this, the most notable being its two park “Tips Boards”, which use LCD screens linked directly to the turnstile counters at each attraction, while other resorts still use chalkboards and stick-on wait times. However, digital technology in counter service restaurants has arguably been put to much better use around the world — the self-service ordering kiosks at locations such as Disney California Adventure’s Taste Pilot’s Grill, for example, should have been introduced over here long ago, reducing painful wait times at that first ordering stage and of course, providing perfect service in every language.

VIA mouetto (Disney Central Plaza)

Thursday, 29th April 2010

Captain EO returns to Disneyland Paris, 12th June!

Remember last December, when Disneyland Paris clarified to Cast Members that they wouldn’t be following Disneyland Resort in California by bringing back the previous Captain EO 3-D film to what we’ve more recently known as Honey, I Shrunk the Audience?

Oh, but then 23rd February this year came and went, and the slightly re-titled ‘Captain EO Tribute’ opened in California, proving an immediate crowd-puller — especially compared to the tired old tricks of HISTA. As MiceAge calculated, the theatre was now welcoming not 1,500 to 2,500 visitors a day but more like 15,000 or 16,000, clearly using the space much more efficiently.

So it’s confirmed: ‘EO’ will return to ALL its former locations, officially opening (or re-opening) on 12th June 2010 at Disneyland Paris. This of course means we have to say goodbye to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience, which closes in just a few days’ time on 3rd May 2010, giving around six weeks for a swift changeover of the theatre to get it looking a little more like its original 1992 state.

Still don’t believe it? Here’s the press release:

‘Captain EO’ Returns to Disneyland Paris

Classic Attraction Featuring Michael Jackson to re-open in June

Captain EO returns to Disneyland Paris

LONDON 28 APRIL 2010 Due to the overwhelming response from both guests and Michael Jackson fans at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim since February, “Captain EO,” the classic musical spectacular that thrilled Disneyland Park guests from 1992-1998 will return to Disneyland Paris, Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland Resort this summer.

The attraction’s return to Disneyland Paris’ Discoveryland on 12 June 2010, provides new audiences with the opportunity to experience the original 3D production for the very first time, as well as a nostalgic look back for longtime fans wanting to see “The King of Pop” in a rare performance created for the big-screen.

Twenty-three years ago, at the height of his phenomenal entertainment career, Michael Jackson joined forces with Disney, producer George Lucas and director Francis Ford Coppola to create a groundbreaking 17-minute 3D film experience starring Jackson as Captain EO performing two original songs, and featuring Academy Award®-winning actress Anjelica Huston, and a cast of merry, mythical space characters with dual personalities who undergo magical transformations to become Jackson’s electronic band in conquering the forces of darkness.

The colorful Disney-created characters include: Hooter, the little green elephant-like creature who sneezes wild musical notes through his flute-like trunk; Fuzzball, the orange-haired space monkey with butterfly wings; the Geex, a golden-haired, two-faced personality with two left feet, one right foot and two shaggy heads named Idy and Ody; Major Domo, whose mirrored silver costume becomes a complete set of drums, and Minor Domo with his sparkling purple torso that turns into an electronic synthesizer played by Hooter.

For all its technology, “Captain EO” is first and foremost a musical spectacular and a thrilling space-fantasy adventure. The realism of the 3D process will once again make it seem that Jackson dances right out of the screen into the theater. It will boast a new 70mm print of the film and sound better than ever thanks to acoustical enhancements made to the theater since the film last played there. The total effect is one of motion, color and high energy filled with Jackson’s musical brilliance and various illusions to create an exciting and realistic journey in space for the audience.

During the journey, Captain EO and his merry crew discover a colorless planet where they are confronted by the Supreme Leader (Huston) and her forces of darkness. Using the power of music, dance and light to fill the planet and the theater with all the shades of the rainbow, the EO crew turns the black and white land into a magical world of color and happiness.

“Captain EO” makes use of more famous-name talents than any other film of its length ever produced. The production called on Hollywood’s finest choreographers, set designers, costume creators and special effects artists — all of them excited by the challenge of shooting this kind of imaginative film in three dimensions.

“Captain EO” will be presented multiple times daily at Disneyland Paris from 12 June 2010

Along with the video above, several stills have been dug out to accompany the press release:

Captain EO returns to Disneyland Paris

Captain EO returns to Disneyland Paris

Captain EO returns to Disneyland Paris

The attraction will also re-open at Tokyo Disneyland on 30th June and at Epcot in Florida on 2nd July, making Disneyland Paris the first park beyond California to welcome back the sci-fi adventure film. Something that, given the resort’s past reluctance to catch up (‘EO’ was already almost six years old when it opened, ‘HISTA’ took over five years after its Epcot debut) comes as even more of a surprise.

Of course, though 16th August 1998 was the last time you could see the 3-D George Lucas “space opera” in Paris, guests actually enjoyed it under the name of ‘CinéMagique‘ (probably making our Disney resort the only one to have had two completely different attractions share the same name). Like the Magic Eye Theater in California, this was the name given to the building — but also as the title on park maps and at the entrance. Captain EO just happened to be the film playing. So, in a round-about way, ‘Captain EO’ (or perhaps ‘Captain EO Tribute’) will be a brand new addition to the park maps come 12th June — that’s presuming they’re reprinted, since the current lot extend to 6th November but will now soon be out-of-date.

Captain EO‘s return to these parks will be on the same “limited time” basis as its reopening in California, though with no end date currently announced, serving both to celebrate Michael Jackson truly at his peak and to bide some time before a true follow-up to HISTA can be Imagineered. Rumours for California have suggested the interactive “living character” attraction Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, but this already being at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, would still leave Epcot needing a new filler for its Imagination pavilion, and for us, those Pixar monsters (even with a now-confirmed sequel on the way) might finally prove one step too far from the original Discoveryland concept.

But back to today — let’s say our fond farewells to HISTA, the mice tails and dog sneezes which so entertained us on our first visit, and prepare to welcome back an unexpected piece of the past — a rare chance for the visitors of today to experience some Euro Souvenirland history… in 3-D!

Pictures, video © Disney

Tuesday, 16th February 2010

Pizza Planet to become a Buzz Lightyear buffet

Back in December 2009 there were reports that guests were being surveyed in Videopolis / Hyperion Café about changes to the offering over at Buzz Lightyear’s Pizza Planet, the popular land’s only other restaurant. Currently a counter service location serving pizzas and other American fast food, the questions apparently only suggested an “all you can drink” option for meals costing €15.

Now, sources are stating that the restaurant will become a full “all you can eat” restaurant from July this year. Our friends at Photos Magiques posted the information via Twitter.

To accommodate the changeover, the restaurant will close from 1st April to 30th June 2010, though no further information about the exact changes due to be made is available yet.

Those changes are important to know, because otherwise we’re left wondering…

An all-you-can-eat restaurant, here… ?

Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet

There were suggestions with the original rumours that the décor could also be changed or updated in the process, and you’ve got to hope that’s the case. Disneyland Paris gets a bad enough reputation for its high food prices and low quality counter service without suddenly charging a top-up to eat in this tired space.

Whilst the Pizza Planet in the original film is a wondrous, technological space filled with features like those giant drink dispensers and automated pizza-based announcements (yes, they’re a thing…), the Discoveryland equivalent is a black tent with fluorescent strip lights. We attempted to explain why the restaurant is located in a tent out the back of Discoveryland in our earlier article. It was used for a ‘Space Festival’ exhibition during the opening year of Space Mountain and then seized upon for a quick tie-in to the Toy Story films …and here we are more than a decade later.

The date this new format is set to be introduced will of course come as a huge coincidence what with the opening of Toy Story Playland (sometime in “Summer”, still no date) and the première of Toy Story 3, the long-awaited new addition to the series.

Though Toy Story 3 will be big news all over, Toy Story Playland will surely become the real “centre” of all things Woody and Buzz at Disneyland Paris when it opens. Keeping a lacklustre restaurant dedicated to the film hidden away over here in a whole different park, especially when Walt Disney Studios Park will be so lacking dining on its Toon Studio side, is a silly situation for the resort to find itself in.

Toy Story Playland won’t have a single dining location, leaving Toon Studio’s grand total at zero.

Future Discoveryland restaurant
Discoveryland restaurant that never was, or has yet to be?

And, though Discoveryland still needs more dining capacity to take the strain off Hyperion Café, is this place hidden away behind the forgotten Honey, I Shrunk the Audience the best place to achieve that? Will we really never see that planned restaurant right at the entrance to the land, opposite Constellations boutique? Surely a much more tempting prospect.

Perhaps Tour Guide Barbie will drive by and explain the short-sightedness involved on both sides.

Picture by DLRP Today; Concept © Disney.

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